Newsflash: Small business, enterprise & employment bill

government reforms - elizabeth towerIn our June Newsletter Government reforms (3) – Queen’s speech we reported that the Government had plans to introduce the ‘Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill’.

This Bill has now been published and a consultation launched which closes on 17 September 2014. The Government has published a fact sheet on the Bill which is available here.

We reported on the main news, which is the move to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts, in our last Newsflash.

However, the Bill also includes other employment measures of interest to HR professionals. The main proposals are:

  • Whistleblowing: giving the Secretary of State a power to require prescribed bodies to report annually on the disclosures they receive.
  • Employment Tribunals:
  • failure to pay sums: The creation of a financial penalty for employers who fail to pay sums ordered by a Tribunal or owed under settlement agreements reached following ACAS conciliation. The planned penalty is 50% of the outstanding amount, subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000; and
  • postponements: A limit on the number of successful applications for postponement of a Tribunal hearing a party can have in a case, other than in exceptional circumstances. This would also require the costs regime to be amended so that the Tribunal will be obliged to consider whether to make an award in respect of costs or preparation time where a late application for postponement has been granted.
  • National Minimum Wage: an increase in the maximum financial penalty for underpayment of the national minimum wage to £20,000 per worker.
  • Public sector exit payments: allowing the Treasury to make regulations requiring public sector employees and office-holders to repay ‘exit payments’, such as redundancy payments, if they are re-engaged in the public sector within 12 months.

We’ll be sure to explore these in further detail in our Newsletters when we have further information.